In today’s health conscious society people are going out of their way to remain healthy. This often means the proper protection from the sun. Sunscreen with all levels of SPF are available and recommend for use to protect your skin if you are going to be in the sun for a long duration of time. And rightly so. When we think about the rise in skin cancer and hear about the dangers of tanning beds, its no wonder why protection from the suns rays has taken such priority.
But it is possible that along the way, the sun has gotten a bit of an unfair reputation. The sun is our natural source of vitamin D. Many people, especially those who live in countries where winters are long and days are short, are actually vitamin D deficient. Chronic pain patients have a higher risk of having low levels of vitamin D. Generally speaking, if you are not feeling well and your body is in pain, then chances are that your time outdoors and in the sunlight is limited.
Our bodies make vitamin D naturally when exposed to direct sunlight. Your body will only make the amount of vitamin D that it requires. Usually 10 minutes in the sun is sufficient enough for your body to produce an adequate amount of vitamin D. Vitamin D is needed for maintaining strong, healthy bones. It does this by regulating how our body absorbs calcium. It also plays a role in fighting off a number of illnesses.
Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to severe asthma, colds, chronic pain and even fibromyalgia.
In 2002, a study was published in a medical journal that took 360 chronic pain patients and closely examined them. Approximately 83% of the study participants were found to be low in vitamin D. After several months of vitamin D supplementation, the participants who were found to be low in vitamin D reported a decrease to their overall pain.
In 2009, another medical study found that patients who were vitamin D deficient were more likely to require a higher does of pain medication versus those who were not vitamin D deficient.
Although more research is needed to say for certain that vitamin D decreases pain, experts do believe that supplementing with vitamin D can have an effect on your overall pain level.
This does not mean that you should do away with your sunscreen routine when going outside. The fact is that too much direct sunlight still holds as much risk as ever. Sunscreen is one way to protect your skin from harmful rays of the sun. If you are vitamin D deficient, sunlight alone will not be enough to bring your vitamin D level back up to normal.
The first thing to do is to find out if you are vitamin D deficient. Your primary physician will be well equipped to provide the appropriate testing. If you are deficient, medically supervised supplementation over a period of time may be necessary to bring your levels back up to normal.
Once your levels of vitamin D are brought up, sunlight can be used to maintain your levels. For most people, 10 minutes of direct sunlight is sufficient enough.
Vitamin D is important to our overall health. Even if there is no significant change to your level of pain, adequate amounts of vitamin D can still help to protect you from the common cold as well as bronchitis. It can improve your mood and can improve overall quality of sleep. Vitamin D has also been known to potentially prevent a large number of cancers.